The questions and comparisons about Ed Reed started for Kyle Hamilton almost as soon as he was drafted by the Ravens.
At one point, he just had to shake his head and laugh about it.
The reception was inevitable because of the shadow of Reed, who, along with Matt Elam, were the only other safeties drafted in the first round in franchise history.
“I’ve been a Raven for less than 24 hours and I’ve been asked about you about 50 times,” Hamilton said on Ravens Wired.
There is some perception that Hamilton might have some big shoes to fill, but Reed doesn’t see it that way.
“You do your thing,” Reed told him. “Don’t worry about the comparison. That stuff is just there. You’re your own person, your own man. That’s what got you where you’re at.”
Reed’s resume reads like the true Hall-of-Famer, which can be intimidating for any player.
— Nine Pro Bowl berths
— Six All-Pro nods.
— 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
— Ravens’ Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2008.
Reed was also a winner on the field, helping the Ravens reach AFC Championship games three times over his career. In 2012-13, Reed played a key role in leading the Ravens over the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.
Over his 13-year NFL career, Reed finished with 643 total tackles, 64 interceptions, seven interception returns for touchdowns, six sacks, 13 fumble recoveries and 139 passes defensed. He holds the Ravens’ franchise records for career interceptions (61), interception return yards (1,541), interceptions returned for touchdowns (7) and passes defensed (135).
Reed holds NFL records for longest interception return (107 yards), career interception return yards (1,590) and career multi-interception games (12). Reed is tied for most career playoff interceptions (9) and most blocked punts returned for touchdowns (3) in NFL history.
So, Hamilton will be hard-pressed to meet those exploits. In fact, he should just focus on being the best player that he can be and not try to emulate Reed.
And that might be enough.
Hamilton was widely regarded as the best overall player in this year’s draft. He fell to No. 14 for the Ravens because of his slow time in the 40-yard dash.
His speed is not a concern.
“A guy goes to the Combine and maybe doesn’t run as fast as you’d think, or maybe he runs faster,” Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz said. “It works both ways. It happens a lot where [you say], ‘Wow, I didn’t think he was that fast.’ And then you throw in one more game, or you open up the report and say, ‘What did I say with his game speed?’ ‘Did I say the guy plays fast?’ Or ‘Did I say the guy plays slow?’ So, any time that stuff happens, certainly, you ask yourself those questions. But in Kyle’s [Hamilton] specific case, you look at his game speed [and] what you see on tape. He’s covering ground. He’s flying up. He’s showing bursts. He’s showing explosiveness and range. Then you look at your grade, your speed grade, and you have a good grade, and it all matches up, and just the 40 [-yard dash time] didn’t match up.”
The Ravens didn’t even need a safety in this year’s draft with Chuck Clark and newly-signed Marcus Williams on the roster. But as Hamilton began to slide, they had no choice but to take him because he was so high on their draft board.
The Ravens are confident they picked the best player.
“We were very fortunate because we had a guy like Kyle really there,” GM Eric DeCosta said. “It was a gift that we haven’t always had in some years [and] it made it very easy because the phone didn’t ring. There have been a few years I can think of when the phone hasn’t rung. Two years – just to tell you guys a little story – it never rang when we drafted Ronnie Stanley, and it never rang when we drafted Marlon Humphrey, and those were pretty good picks.
“I feel that we’ll look back on this pick and we’ll be glad that the phone didn’t ring.”